Google+ is just about complete. We've got hangouts, pages, photos, games, and lots of ways to share what we love and build an audience. But it seems like Google isn't quite done yet. Since most of Google+ has been "shipped", it's now time to "ship the Google", as +Larry Page mentioned in the quarterly report.
There's almost too many updates to list, but I'll try. There are now more ways to share and communicate with your circles and followers within Google+. If you want to keep up with the latest updates on Google+, but don't want to follow a million Googlers or Google's brand pages, try doing a search on Google+ for #googleplusupdates. Many Googlers, when introducing updates, will use this hashtag in their posts.
- You've always been able to chat within Google+, but it was limited to people in your contact list that you'd added before. Now, +Olof Lindholm explained that now you can chat with people who are in mutual circles. That means if you've added someone to your circle, and they've added you back, then you can now chat with each other. Since your contact list will now expand significantly, especially if you have followed a lot of people on Google+, only people who you've recently had conversations with and are online will show up in the chat list. If you want to talk to someone not on the list, you can always do a search for them. +Gmail goes on to further explain that if you blocked someone in Gmail, you won't be able to add them to your chat list, as blocking in Gmail takes priority. (Genuine question for someone in the know: why doesn't blocking someone work across all Google properties?)
- +Gleb Kuznetsov told us that now you can search within your circles for posts you want to retrieve. Do any search, and click on the grey bar underneath your search term. You can view results "from everyone", "from your circles", or "from you".
- +Mashable noticed and confirmed that Google+ rolled out trending topics, similar to Twitter's trending topics. When you enter a search term, you'll see a list of trending topics on the right hand side. Don't confuse it with the What's hot feature, though. The hot stream focuses on posts that are being shared, commented on, and +1'd a lot.
- +Cam Meadows, creator of the popular HangoutParty, noticed that there is now unlimited screen sharing in Hangouts with Extras. If you want to be a hangout power user, Hangouts with Extras allows you to collaborate with colleagues or teammates in real time. You can hangout with multiple people, share notes, and work on documents at the same time.
- +Nathan Davis announced an update to Google+ Photos; it's now easier to tag people while you're in Google+. You can tag people when you create an album, when you share photos from the sharebox, or when you want to edit an existing album.
- +Brian Rose also provided us with a quick tip on Google+ Photos. You can now edit your photos with Creative Kit before publishing them.
- And are you a university student with a photographer's eye? Check out the photography contest that Google+ is running in collaboration with the Saatchi Gallery in London. The contest is open to university students in undergraduate and graduate programs, and runs until January 31, 2012. There are 10 categories you can enter, and you can submit 8 photographs. Your photographs must be available for viewing in a public Google+ album. Fill out the submission form here.
Perhaps the most exciting part of this week has been learning the ins and outs of the newly introduced Google Music. The latest entry to compete in the cloud music storage business, Google Music lets users take their music collections and stream them anywhere they want. Users can store up to 20,000 songs for free, and download free offerings exclusively from Google Music. Oh, and you can also buy music from them, too.
As for musicians, they can upload and distribute their own content using the Google Music Artist Hub, setting their own prices, and selling directly to their fans.